When You’re an Extrovert With Anxiety {Who May or May Not Be a MilSpouse}

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m an extrovert. There’s no question about it. I love to laugh, and be loud. Hanging with a crowd, going out with a group of people – it’s where I love to be. But there’s another side to be an extrovert that I’ve only recently faced head on.

When you’re the extrovert you are almost always a couple of other things…

1) You are the initiator. You are frequently the planner, the organizer. The desire to go out and be around people drives you to pull others along with you. You value the time out and you recognize how important it can be to not only yourself, but to others as well.

2) You Reach Out. You typically make the phone calls, write the texts and send the emails. When you are feeling alone or miss people you text, call, poke, bug and annoy! Even though we do this naturally, and usually love it, it can be hard to keep this going.

There’s another side to those things that I struggle with – trying to balance the ‘Extrovert’ in me with the realities of my struggles with depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and Depression are an Extroverts Battle too!

One of the biggest ways this manifests itself for me is the concern that my friends aren’t actually my real friends. It sounds crazy, but if you think about it it can make perfect sense. When you are the planner and the caller, the person that reaches out, it isn’t very often that someone needs to do that to you. Most likely you are beating them to the punch. But then there are days and weeks, or even months, that go by without hearing from someone because YOU haven’t been the one to call them. You think, “does this person even like me?” It’s a combination of factors that has led you to this point. When I’m anxious or overwhelmed I draw in to myself, I don’t talk about it, and I don’t ask for help. Thus the downward spiral begins. I stop calling, stop texting and therefore I become more isolated. No one is calling me, because I’m the caller! Or maybe its because they aren’t actually my friend and don’t really like me. Maybe not, but my brain can’t rationalize the difference. Sometimes I just don’t want to be the ‘caller’. But on the other hand I realize that it might not be fair to suddenly alter a relationship without telling the other person. I don’t know what its like to be an introvert, or someone that doesn’t like to talk on the phone.
If you are someone who is the ‘Reacher” you may have heard “well, I always think you’re too busy. You look like you’re so busy!” Don’t let those stop you from calling someone! I try to be the kind of person that will answer the phone quickly to acknowledge the call and say that I will return it quickly. Because you know what happens? A day turns into a week, which turns into a month. Pretty soon, its been six months and you’ve haven’t talked to that person. As an extrovert I will NEVER NEVER ever be too busy for contact…even phone or text contact. In fact I would guess that most of us literally light up and smile so big it hurts when my phone rings! The only exception came when I was suffering from some major depression. 
The realities of a Milspouse Extrovert with Anxiety….

This particular part of my life can really accentuate my anxiety. Moving away from the ones you love, from the ones you’ve built your life around and with changes things. Whether you are an extrovert or not. I’m here to tell you, this three hour time difference is pretty crappy and is the worst!!! This has been one the single hardest things of my life, keeping relationships strong and connected. I can’t do it with facebook and instagram alone! It might be my age showing here, but I just can’t. I need a voice to go with that relationship; and I refuse to let my busy life get in the way of what fills my love jar {have you read a Love Languages book?}. My depression that kicked in with my last move was all-consuming. Even I, the queen of the extroverts, didn’t pick up the phone. I knew it was a lot to ask to not have people not give up on me, after months of not picking up the phone. But I beg of you, if you find yourself in this situation, keep calling them. 
So, what can you do as an Extrovert in this situation? I don’t really know or have the answers. I’m going through this right now and this is the first time I’ve talked about it; navigating these waters for the first time.  But I will say this one thing…
Communicate. I think as women, whether we are moms or not, we know how to talk. We talk about our feelings and frustrations. But are we really communicating? I would argue we aren’t. As a self-proclaimed expert in emotions and sensitivity I am terrible at communicating. I never ask for help, I never tell someone that I’m struggling until its zero hour and I’ve forgotten two things for the meeting we are at and I’m bawling as I race home in my car for the SECOND time to get it. I walk back in and I’ve fixed my face having not expressed my feelings or how I’m struggling. It’s not good. Admitting your struggles doesn’t make you weak!
From the perspective of an extrovert, what can you do
 when your extrovert isn’t quite themselves?
1. Call them now!!! Something is probably up. If you haven’t had a major falling out, they aren’t sick or something along those lines, then something is right. When an extrovert isn’t being an extrovert something is not right.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.  You might not be extrovert and you rely on these extroverted friends of yours to get you out of the house. Well, you might have to step out of your comfort zone.
3. But what if I’m a mom and they’re a mom and the kids are running around crazy!!! I feel like these are the people that need someone calling them the most, and you need to talk the most! Our kids are our lives, and our husbands are important, but self-care is also important. As a military spouse I also rely on my legacy of friendship to get me through those times I feel isolated. When I’m in between friendships, or developing new ones, or just long for the “good old days.”  Those long time friends, despite how much you talk to them, end up being the most valuable things you have in your lives. Don’t forget about those people.
I hope this blog post touches someone, speaks to someone, or someone that is feeling this same way is validated by reading this. Are you struggling with this same feeling? How do you cope with them? If you are a military spouse feeling this way contact Military One Source. It was one of the best decisions I made. Please contact me as well, anytime!!

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